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Football: The 34

FortKnox (169099) writes | more than 8 years ago

User Journal 7

The 3-4 defense has become popular now that the Pats have won 3 superbowls using it.
Which is surprising, because the Steelers have been using it since the mid-90s and have had one of the top defenses in almost every year...The 3-4 defense has become popular now that the Pats have won 3 superbowls using it.
Which is surprising, because the Steelers have been using it since the mid-90s and have had one of the top defenses in almost every year...

But, I digress, anywho, there are two things you need to switch to the 34:
1.) The personnel to run it. Mainly, you need outside linebackers. You can't plug in a OLB from a 43 into a 34, cause they don't have the rushing skills. You can't plug in a DE acuse they don't have the coverage skills. YOu actually need to draft and train OLB's in the 34. Most coaches and scouts predict it takes a good 3 years (much like a WR) to train a small, speedy DE into the mold of a 34 OLB.
2.) The coach and coordinator to implement it. Its one thing to just drop a lineman and add a LB and try to send in more blitzing... its another to actually get it to work. Most DC in the NFL are brought up in strong 43 and Cover-2 defensive schemes, not the 34. The 34 requires a LOT of imagination and cunning. Its a weak package straight up, but in the hands of a smart schemer, it can confuse the hell out of opposing OC's and wreak havok causing turnovers and sacks galore. The only coaches that I know for sure that can run the 34: Romeo Crennel, Bill Cowher, Don Capers, Jim Haslette, and Dick LeBeau. All are head coaches or have been head coaches (in LeBeau's case), now.

We are seeing quite a few teams making the switch, but all but one will probably be successful in it:
1.) San Francisco: Mike Nolan likes running the 34. He switched Baltimore over to it. Baltimore was better in the 43. He coaches it decently with great personnel... the SF experiment will probably fail (though there is a chance since its in the rebuilding phase).
2.) New England: Well, they've always had the 34 in the mix, but they are missing their coach so lets reevaluate. I'm thinking Romeo was the brilliance behind their 34 packages (don't give me the Brueschi factor, he's replaced by the very capable, and been in the 34 scheme before Chad Brown), because they are resorting to hardly ever using it anymore.
3.) Cleveland: Here is the success story. Its obvious Cleveland doesn't have the personnel... yet, but Crennel was the mastermind behind the NE 34 defense, and is already showing success in it in Cleveland (held Manning to no touchdowns, etc...). After the reconstruction is complete, this will be a fine defensive team.
4.) Dallas: Why is the big tuna still bothering? Its obvious his defense stinks to high hell. The 34 experiement already failed, now cut your loses and go back to the 43.

I know there are other teams experimenting with the 34 (Miami, Oakland), but I have a feeling all will abandon it by next year. Just don't have the 2 poitns and aren't willing to undergo the time it takes to convert...

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The Nose (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#13707620)

I would only add that you need a differnt breed of Noseguard in the 34 than the twin DTs in the 43. Not every DT can convert over and become a succful Nnoseguard. When the Giants were in their heyday I recall that part of their success was due to Jim Burt's excellence on the point. Granted their LBs really were special (I even stil remember them- Banks, Carson, Reasons, and some duy named Taylor;-), but I think having the right Noseguard is a big part of the mix.

Re:The Nose (1)

NFLFan (878402) | more than 8 years ago | (#13707918)

Totally agree about the need of a good nose tackle for a good 3-4. I remember last year when Casey Hampton went down with a bad knee, I was sort of surprised to see the Steelers continued to play stellar defense.

I'm sure people will disagree with me but I thought part of the reason why the Ravens were less than successful with the 3-4 was because their nose did a bad job. Does not help that their personnel was more suited for the 4-3, especially Ray Lewis.

Re:The Nose (1)

RevMike (632002) | more than 8 years ago | (#13707934)

Hell, that whole front seven was special. Don't forget a guy by the name of Leonard Mashall. George Young and Bill Parcells built a defense that I believe is the equal or near equal of just about any defense in the history of the NFL. Remember that this was the heyday of Bill Walsh, and the NFC East was an incredibly strong division, with great Redskin teams as well as very good Cowboy and Eagle teams. I still look back fondly on those classic 10-7 battles with the 49ers and Redskins.

The only downside to that defensive unit was that the Giant's DBs were nothing special.

The Giants in those days also usually had great special teams and an offense built on toughness. Mark Bavaro, had he been able to play a longer career, would probably be the greatest TE to play the game. Simms was a decent QB who knew how to play field general in the appropriate style for that team. Joe Morris, Mo Carthon, and latter Otis Anderson were workhorses. But the Offensive Line was excellent. A great O-Line makes every other player on offense better.

Re:The Nose (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#13708293)

I remember a great story about Bavaro during this time. He was so quiet on and off the field that when he had his jaw wired shut after breaking it, no one knew about for a couple of weeks;-) What did happen to him? I remember him from the Giants heyday being just a phenomenal TE, but then he disappeared. Injury I'm guessing?

Re:The Nose (1)

RevMike (632002) | more than 8 years ago | (#13710329)

I remember a great story about Bavaro during this time. He was so quiet on and off the field that when he had his jaw wired shut after breaking it, no one knew about for a couple of weeks;-) What did happen to him? I remember him from the Giants heyday being just a phenomenal TE, but then he disappeared. Injury I'm guessing?
He blew out his knees. My favorite Bavaro story was that they didn't have enough weights in the weight room for him. The Giants borrowed some man-hole covers from the East Rutherford Dept. of Public Works so they could get enough weight for him to do leg presses.

Re:The Nose (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#13712095)

You are absolutely right... not only the 34NT, but the 34DE. They are all nothing more than big bodies meant to hog up blocks. The 34DEs are more like the 43NTs, and the 34NT has to be a very large and athletic run stuffer.

random 3-4 stuff (1)

NFLFan (878402) | more than 8 years ago | (#13708198)

Good stuff.

I don't know if Jim Haslett belongs on your short list. This might sound funny, but I think Wade Phillips is more deserving.

I never understood the whole thing with Mike Nolan and Baltimore. The Ravens were an above average 4-3 team but Mike Nolan was hell bent on turning them into a 3-4 defense and they were nothing special as a 3-4 team. Somehow that got Nolan his job at San Francisco; maybe the guy is a good coach whose hand was forced personnel-wise in Baltimore but then that means he does not coach towards his teams strengths.

Given another year or two, I think the Cowboys could be a good 3-4 team. Their problem is more with where they are coming from, personnel, rather than anything scheme-wise. The Cowboys and Parcells probably do not have that long of a future together though.

It is interesting how often the Patriots have switched to the 4-3 during games this year because they seem to play better in it right now. The interesting part is that Seymour, who some say is their best defensive player, is much better in the 3-4 and their roster is built for the 3-4 so an injury to their defensive line would test their depth if they continued to deploy the 4-3.

I remember reading either an ESPN or NFL.com article last year that was about the 3-4 becoming vogue again. Not that I agree with the article but it mentioned that the 3-4 was more expensive over prolonged periods of time because linebackers are more expensive than defensive linemen.
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